Future growth at North Country will focus on the burgeoning all-natural, organic, certified humane and global animal partnership (GAP) markets.


Focused direction

The greatest point of pride for Satzow, North Country and Corbett, remains the quality of product the plant has continuously put out over the years and the intent to strengthen its position in the organic, all-natural, certified humane and GAP markets. Quebec City, Canada-based packer, duBreton, has strengthened its role in supporting North Country Smokehouse.

Two years ago, Satzow sold North Country to family owned duBreton. The company used the supplier almost exclusively for 20 years.

“They provided us with a great product source of organic and natural products,” Satzow says. “So, moving forward that’s what we’re going to do, we’ll focus the company’s growth on it.”

The decision to concentrate on the organic, all-natural, certified humane and GAP segments came easily to North Country. The company had always produced at lower volumes with an emphasis on creating the best quality product it possibly could. Corbett says moving that mindset to the natural and organic areas was a natural transition. “You see a lot of people trying to move into that niche of natural or potentially organic, but they’re not bringing the same kind of quality that we are.”

And while the new facility and iteration of the company will strengthen and lock its growth focus tighter on those niche markets, it’s not new to North Country, which has worked in those markets all along.

“We go back many years making this type of product. It’s been a strong commitment that we’ve had and we’re one of the first certified humane producers in the United States,” Satzow says. “I was able to do that because I sourced my product from duBreton, which was one of the first certified humane producers on the continent.”

Satzow and North Country began work with duBreton over 20 years ago, and obviously the partnership is strong as the recent acquisition shows. Satzow and Corbett have nothing but positive things to say about duBreton, especially when it comes to the Canadian packer’s attitude toward the established business practices of North Country, and its support.

“You couldn’t ask for better people,” Satzow says of duBreton. “They give us everything we want, they’ve got significant resources available to them. They respect the quality of the product we’re making because they try to make the same product in Canada. There’s a lot of synergies there, and you learn from their mistakes as well as the mistakes you made yourself, and that makes you better.”

Satzow and Corbett still run North Country as an independent company. There haven’t been any forced changes or duBreton executives with agendas inserted into North Country’s operations. duBreton and the Breton family believed in the model when they bought North Country and have no reason to change it. “Which is why we have this nice new, beautiful plant,” Corbett says. “And they’re helping us invest in more people like our new marketing manager and our new sales director.”

DuBreton’s position in the natural, organic, certified humane and GAP markets has given North Country its drive to move in that direction. It’s mutual. Both companies believe in it and are in the perfect position to help one another. Corbett points out that North Country and Satzow were already getting there before the acquisition and it’s now just being accelerated.

With some ambiguity in the exact meanings of “natural,” and “antibiotic-free,” Corbett believes that North Country Smokehouse under the ownership of duBreton will make it easy on those seeking out definitive answers to the questions, “What am I getting? What is in this product? How were the animals raised?”

“We’re taking it a step beyond and saying ‘look, it’s black and white here. It’s certified humane and the animals are treated well,’” Corbett says. “With organics, you know that what you’re getting is what you think you’re getting. This pork is not fed GMOs, not fed all these different things, you know what you’re getting when it’s an organic product. It may or may not be the case with just calling something natural.

“So, we’re kind of moving that direction. That’s of one of their (duBreton) great influences on us. It’s to kind of use us as a vessel to accelerate their growth in certified humane, organic, and be that leader.”